Educational Alternatives - Supporting school development in Ghana

ABN AMRO Clearing and the Amsterdam Investor Forum (AIF) are proud to support Alternatives for Children (A4C), a charitable initiative of the Dutch alternative-investment community. Having raised more than EUR 11,000 in 2014, this year’s AIF will once again donate voluntary registration contributions in full to A4C for the needs of Ghana’s Kanaka School.

The Kanaka School is an essential source of affordable, quality schooling – from day care to primary education to vocational training – for children, youths and adults in Ghana’s rural Ashanti region. The school was founded by Christiana Frimpong in 2003, following a visit to her hometown in Ghana and after working in Europe for 20 years. She realised that because of their limited access to continuing education, local youths had few professional prospects and subsequently became disadvantaged adults. Consequently, with her own savings and donations from her Dutch employers, Christiana began building the Kanaka School on land she inherited in Domeabra, a small Ashanti village.

Affordable education is in demand in Domeabra and the vicinity. Other schools in the area only offer secondary school aimed at pursuing a university education, which is unaffordable for a large segment of the population. Conversely, Kanaka’s tuition is attainable for the vast majority of residents, even with a full boarding option

The school’s expenses have always exceeded its proceeds, mostly due to national requirements related to infrastructure and facilities, which must be completed for official school recognition and certification, which in turn attracts teachers and students. However, while the school has capacity for as many as 500 students, only 95 local pupils are currently enrolled in the primary school. Developing a vocational-training programme that caters to students who can afford to pay tuition will support the costs of running the primary school. The school must therefore draw students from farther afield, which will subsequently require housing them.

This is why A4C stepped in to support the school, explains A4C co-founder and co-executive director Sophie Robé, also a director at Phenix Capital, who visited the school in June 2014. “We began supporting Kanaka in 2013 and have since financed lavatories so the school could be officially certified, which it now is,” she confirms. “We are currently funding dormitory construction for more than 100 female students, so that a nursing school for young women can open in September 2015.” Sophie says that having paying, boarding students will translate into approximately EUR 750 annual revenue per student. “This will ultimately enable an expanded curriculum and ensure a sustainable and self-sufficient future for the school, its pupils and the community,” she emphasises.

Kanaka’s social impact on the local population is two-fold: early schooling will significantly benefit the students’ academic potential while also providing many mothers with more time to work, thereby earning incomes to improve quality of life and family living conditions at home. The school also provides teenagers who would not have any other possibility of further local education after primary school, the possibility of vocational training in a field (healthcare, eldercare, manufacturing) that will provide them with greater opportunities for sustainable income and networking. This is of particular importance for women in terms of increasing their autonomy and empowerment.

To continue serving the community, financial support is vital for Kanaka’s many needs. The school currently operates with no margin for emergencies or to cover high construction costs further elevated by Ghana’s astronomical (17%) inflation rate and rapid development. Therefore, ABN AMRO Clearing is pleased to once again donate all AIF registration proceeds to A4C for Kanaka to complete dormitory construction and meet its enrolment objectives. For more information about Kanaka, please visit: kanakaschoolproject.com

Alternatives for Children

Founded in 2011 as a private initiative of Netherlands-based alternative-investment professionals, A4C is an independent charitable foundation that aims to improve the well-being of children in the developing world, particularly in terms of education. A4C finances carefully selected, sustainable projects with the help of local alternative-investment professionals, encouraging direct individual and corporate involvement.

Promising, small-scale projects that can make a difference to communities, countries and the next generation are chosen on the basis of specific criteria. Only initiatives that fall under education, healthcare, hygiene, clean water, housing and family support are considered. A candidate project must also have the potential to become sustainable and self-reliant and should encourage entrepreneurialism. Personal involvement and commitment by setting objectives and realistic short- and long-term goals is also required.

Local anchoring is therefore a key criterion, whereby personal involvement of parents, teachers and the community ensures commitment to the projects. This is not only important for educational continuity and a safe environment for the children, but also for ultimately ending dependence on external funding, which A4C provides for a maximum of three years.

All A4C projects must be fully transparent regarding financial and progress reporting. This allows A4C to set realistic goals for the selected projects and provides a clear overview of how funding is allocated. Funding growth enables diversification among several small projects. The modest scale of A4C projects ensures add maximum value and impact. A4C currently supports seven qualified projects globally, through which it reaches more than 500 children.

In addition to Kanaka, these include:

  • Edelweiss School in Bangalore, India (preschool for 100 children).
  • Kamitei in Tanzania (scholarships for vocational training or secondary education).
  • Tiny Miracles in Mumbai, India (schooling and homework support for 60 children).
  • Macheo in Kenya (housing and schooling for 65 children).
  • Kuychi/Ninos del Arco Iris in Peru (schooling, vocational training and medical care for orphaned children).

A4C organises fund-raising events for the investment-management community in the Netherlands and welcomes sponsors as well as personal donations. For more information, please visit: a4c.nl